“RA Scion” | Extensive Behind the Mic with the Voice of Common Market & Victor Shade
Interview by Mitch McCann and Seth Thacker-Lynn
Seeds.: I saw you mention Occupy Wall Street in the video you did for Beg, Borrow, and Steal…
RA Scion: Occupy Wall Street is probably the most significant thing going on right now. This project has been floating around in my head and it’s been a part of the live show for about a year. I’ve never recorded any of them or even thought about putting it out as a project until the Occupy movement. In fact, if the video would have come out on time it would have included footage from New York but by this [November] I think that that’s corny, so we cut all that out. I don’t want it to look like a documentary, I think people will get the idea. We don’t need to call it “#OWS” or some shit. [Laughs]
Seeds.: What is it about the Occupy Wall Street movement that you connected to so deeply that it urged you to start a new project?
RA: It’s a social revolution. I don’t know if you follow Keith Olbermann, I mean, he’s not my favorite dude, but the way he land-blasted Michael Bloomberg – that really explains it for me. The movement itself is important if for no other reason than just to expose the phonies. So what if in the end people think about [the protestors] as “a bunch of hippies trying to recreate the 1968 movement.” So what. What’s really important is that people like Bloomberg get exposed to this whole process. It’s a beautiful thing.
Seeds: You mentioned to me before that you were working on yet another project?
RA: Until [Beg, Borrow, and Steal] has run its course that’s where I’m focused. I’m writing for another project, I hope to release a full-length album sometime next year. But for now, that’s just a concept.
Seeds: How does your connection to OWS play into your music?
RA: I’ve always felt like an observer. Really, I’m just a journalist and hip hop is sort of the medium. We, I say we because it feels like more than just me, have always advocated for social change. Change for the sake of change, sometimes is good. So agitate something, make somebody a little bit uncomfortable, challenge somebody to challenge something and maybe through that process something sparks. If you’re always attuned to that, looking for change you’re quick to identify it and that’s what I’ve loved about the occupy movement. It felt like the result of that agitation. Something I had been waiting for for a long time.
Seeds: Is hip hop as journalism something you feel is new or that you are adding on to?
RA: Definitely adding on to, I think of somebody like Too Short for example. Talk about hip hop as journalism, Too Short took me to parts of Oakland that I still have never been to this day. I’ve played in Oakland, I’ve been in the Bay, and still if it weren’t for the music of Too Short, there are places in Oakland I would never even know about. It’s being an observer and telling a story. Being able to create the imagery, make it believable. Some of it is not even real – it doesn’t have to be. The fabrication and the way you flesh out the story is perfectly okay. It’s slightly different from journalism, but it’s like you’re a reporter. Slick Rick is probably the greatest story-telling rapper of all time. It’s people articulating a current position of a place you might not be familiar with, which is the job of a journalist. To tell the story from the inside-out.
Seeds: Musical activism?
RA: Music in and of itself is very spiritual in nature which means that it’s always been a tool that advocates, this connection through humanity. A commonality. Music has always been that. Entire cultures have been denied the privilege of music because of its power. We talk about book burning, but people have been denied access to music.
Even as a kid in middle school or high school I was listening to Too Short and NWA and friends of mine were getting in trouble for that. Parents would take away the tape and break that shit. It’s the same thing. That’s the power of music. If they really thought it was garbage or crap and that kids shouldn’t be listening to it because it’s not worth their time they’d just leave it alone. but to actually want to destroy that tape for your kids to not have access to it means you recognize the power in it.
Seeds: NWA’s music tends to be labeled as born of anger or repression of a sort, do you think hip hop has changed into something as result of a desire to empathize, communicate or educate?
RA: I don’t know that there’s an answer to the bigger question, but here’s where it starts to get into issues of race. Especially when you use NWA as a point of reference and talking about what’s “real” it becomes questionable because NWA was just kind of a mouthpiece they were telling stories about communities that they were affiliated with or familiar with but it’s not like that was their day-to-day life. NWA was assembled as a marketing team. Dre was never a gang banger, I don’t even think [Ice] Cube was a banger, the only one that was ever closely affiliated with gangs was Eazy-E. Anyway, said all that to say – you start talking about anger, rage, etc… Jungle Brothers advocated change just as much, if not more than NWA did and of course it comes from anger, but when white folks start to talk about black music and use words like “anger,” the red flags start to go up and you have to start questioning where your perspective is based. Are we afraid to talk about change? Do we have the right to talk about it critically? All of my comments about hip hop are based on my perspective.
Seeds: Both Victor Shade and this new EP have been described as more aggressive. Do you see that aggression as reactionary to the things going on around you, like OWS?
RA: Well, yes. I think the reason the Victor Shade project sounded different than anything from Common Market is you have a different producer and that’s how I want to distinguished from other projects then MTK’s beats by nature they’re more aggressive, instead of what people refer to as the “jazzy” sound of Common Market.The lyrics reflected that too, but it was still all metaphorical type stuff. It never became “street rap,” you know what I mean? A lot of that is spurred on by commentary of people saying “well, Common Market is cool and everything, but that’s that soft stuff.” And on a surface level, it does feel a lot more soft.
Seeds: You have plenty of credits under your belt and are certainly established in your field. With each new project do you feel you have to prove yourself to people or do you feel comfortable with your art?
RA: Oh no. I feel like I have something to prove with every word. Much less with every song or album or project. There’s always something to prove.
Seeds: What do you think that stems from?
RA: …Hip hop. [Laughs] I was going to say hip hop culture, maybe it sort of is. I don’t know if it’d be the same if I was in a rock band or pop or bluegrass or whatever. All I know is what it’s like to compete in the hip hop arena. So you’re held accountable, people call you on your bullshit. If you get comfortable somebody’s gonna slide into that spot. There’s a lot of opportunities to play in Seattle, but there’s still not a lot of slots that people want. Low hanging fruit, and people in the northwest don’t really want that. On one hand you’re talking about a city that does provide a tremendous amount of opportunities for independent artists to play, but that’s the low hanging fruit. You can go out and get it almost any day of the week, but that’s not what people want.
Seeds: This may be over-generalizing, but it’s my understanding that there have traditionally been three main genres of hip hop: East Coast, West Coast and South. I’m just curious, is there a Northwest specific sound? Has hip hop experienced a gentrification of sorts?
RA: White folks have been involved in hip hop for a long, long time. It’s not just an influx of white people into the rap culture. It’s all about accessibility. There’s an inherent difficulty in any culture that’s rooted in accessibility and that was the beauty of rap. You could do it any time – beat box, beat on the table or the wall. One of the greatest scenes ever that Saul Williams movie, that jailhouse scene where this guy’s just banging on the wall and they get a beat and he’s rapping his ass off. That stuff is powerful. You can do it anytime, you just needed something to say. If you make it that easy to access the art form, you’re basically saying “hey look everybody, we can all do this.” But I guess there just became too many cooks in the kitchen at one point.
Seeds: Do you feel your sound has to change gears to play to a predominantly white audience?
RA: That’s all I’ve ever had. I played a couple shows in high school, a small town school 30 miles out from Louisville, Kentucky. When we got a chance to play shows in clubs and the audience was still mostly white. Come to Seattle and the audience is very much white. I’m not trippin about it.
I had read or heard somewhere that Malcolm X specifically told white folks that “your role as a agent of social change is to talk to your people, you don’t have anything to tell black folks. We know our experience, don’t speak to us.” I’ve known my audience was white for the records, for the shows – I was speaking to a white audience. That’s why the content is what it is. That’s why it sounds like it does.
Seeds: Would you say there’s a Northwestern subgenre of hip hop?
RA: Yes, but you can’t identify it sonically. It’s not like you’re just able to hear something right away and say “Oh that’s got a Seattle sound to it.” It does have a Seattle vibe to it. Maybe there’s a Northwest culture, ‘cause I feel it when I’m in Portland too. I mean [IFC sketch comedy show] Portlandia is funny, but it’s also socially relevant. Portlandia is capturing some really important developments socially and culturally. There’s so much reality in that. That’s what makes it so funny is it does feel so accurate. You take that culture and let them start making music, creating art, then it’s gonna have a particular feel to it. It’s sort of an amalgamation of a whole lot of things. There’s this tremendous New York influence in Seattle. People don’t want to admit it. At times in certain parts of Seattle it might feel like you’re in a suburb of L.A. (if it weren’t for the climate.) Seattle has had a profound effect on my development. I would not be who I am today had I spent the last 11 years in Pittsburgh. I promise you that.
Seeds: Were you raised in an environment that nurtured hip hop? How did you come to it?
RA: I’m pretty much from small town Kentucky. By the time I started listening to rap, there was something about black music that I had already identified with at a younger age. When I got into rap when I was 11 or 12 years old, I wanted to write my raps. I started reciting early LL Cool J lyrics and it was so fresh the way people would just gather around you and listen to you rap in the hallways in between classes and shit like that.
By 7th grade I started to get a crew evolving called CHAOS, me and my homie Duece and we had a female beat boxer. So we did that all the way through high school and I went off to college and continued to write but never really had studio access. Back in the mid 90’s nobody was really messing with software and recording and home studios and stuff like that. You had to go to a studio if you wanted to put a demo or any kind of real project out. That was may attempt, just keep writing and eventually record something and put it out. By the time I went to university I had a girlfriend that got pregnant , end up having a kid, we weren’t sure what we were gonna do. Got married a year and a half later. Determined we were going to raise this kid. While I’m still trying to write raps and get a DJ career off the ground bought a couple of turn tables and a whole bunch of wax and I was spinning. Then I had an opportunity to move overseas. This was like ‘96. Sold my turntables, got rid of all the records and went to Greece with the wife and kid. Lived there for 6 months in ‘99 and got deported from Greece. So me, my wife, and our 2 year old daughter moved from Greece to Zambia, just on a whim, with about a hundred bucks. Had trouble finding a job once I got there, landed in Zambia on the Fourth of July, 1999. After 10 days of being in Zambia with no work, trying to live on a hundred bucks I finally get a job and we ended up living there for almost 2 years. Keep in mind I’m still writing, I still feel really connected to hip hop music.
From living in Greece, being deported from Greece to living in Zambia I definitely didn’t have access to a studio. I remember getting the Black Star album while I was living in Zambia. I asked my mom to send it to me, so [she] went to Target and bought the Black Star CD and shipped it to me in Zambia. That and The Roots’ ‘Things Fall Apart’ were the only two CDs that I got over a period of two years. So all I had were my old CDs from the ‘90s. So I was listening to Fugees, Wu Tang, The Grand Puba 2000 album. One of the purchases we made in Greece was a stereo, one of the first purchases we made in Zambia was a stereo. So I was just carrying the stuff with me and writing and writing and writing. We knew that things we going to work out [in Zambia] financially, there was no future and our daughter was ready to start school so we moved to Seattle. We’ve been here ever since.
Seeds: Do you believe you’ve taken influences in your musical work from your Greek and Zambian travels?
RA: To some extent, yeah. But it’s mostly just rapping about the experience. I’m not the producer, I don’t really make the music so I don’t think you would hear anything musically. Although, the first two albums I put out when I moved to Seattle, this is pre-Common Market, I put out two RA Scion projects. There was some djembe drumming on both of those albums. Because for the first year and a half that I was in Seattle I had no access to a producer, I didn’t know anybody making beats. I didn’t know anybody here, period. All I had was this djembe drum and this notebook that I’d been writing in for the past two years in Greece and Zambia. So I had all these raps that I wanted to perform and I would just go to open mics and just do what sounded like this spoken word poetry over a djembe drum. Not knowing anything about the Northwest culture. Like, that shit would have been cool in Kentucky. Folks in Louisville would have been like “DAMN, this dude is on some shit” in fact there was this one dude that made it. Remy-something Back in 2001 that was the neo-soul era, remember Common was wearing some crochet pants and married to Erykah Badu. It was incense rap. That shit did not go over well in Seattle. BY the time I linked up with Sabzi and started doing Common Market I was bringing that old stuff with me. There wasn’t any djembe drumming on Common Market, but that’s where it came from. The lyrics are labeled as conscious “backpack” rap.
Seeds: Feel free to say you don’t want to talk about it, but it’s my understanding what brought you to Common Market was your Bahai faith you shared with your producer. Do you feel your faith still influences your music? I just think of tracks like “Escaping Arkham” where the opening line goes some like “Any place for a man of faith’s appropriate…”
RA: That was drawn from the very first line of “Winter Takes All” – the first line is “This ain’t no place for a man of faith.” The whole song was about this guy who has this tremendous spiritual capacity, definitely knows he’s a spiritual man, believes in God. So why is it he would be so low if he had so much faith? “Escaping Arkham” was written after “Winter Takes All” so it’s in direct response to that first line, and it says “you’re right,” ANY place for a man of faith is appropriate so rock bottom is exactly where a man of faith is supposed to be. Because the Bahai faith says should a man say I am faithful and never be tested, it’s not enough to just declare your faith if you believe God i great, your faith will be tested. And yes, I am a very spiritual person and for a long time I was a very spiritual person. there is a distinction to be made between the two. We’re all spiritual beings, our capacities are different, but we are all spiritual. Religion is the discipline. It’s how you apply those principles in your daily life and how you interact with your fellow man. I was a very religious person for 19 years but I don’t consider myself to be a religious person anymore and I’m no longer a member of the Bahai faith. I formally withdrew in March of this year, after 19 years.
Seeds: Maybe a different fan would have written down two different songs, but I had those two songs specifically. Is there anything else to “Winter Takes All” and “Escaping Arkham?”
RA: They’re both very much about suicide. It’s tough to write good music about suicide, well, because it’s not really an experience that you’ve gone through [Laughs] So it’s impossible to write about it as though you’ve gone through it, in many ways writing about death is very hard. The point that I’m trying to get across with both songs is my position on suicide and that is in many ways it is the ultimate act of liberation. I won’t go much further into that, it gets sort of macabre. But really taking your life into your own hands is a very liberating act and my experience with suicide have forced me to think about the concept of suicide very critically. At the end of “Winter Takes All” the protagonist jumps of the bridge. So that’s how the two songs are tied together. At the end of “Winter Takes All” the main character has battled all these things in the past and he finally resigned himself to freeing himself until he jumps and then “Escaping Arkham” is about the moment between the physical jump and death. The whole second verse talks about levitating and hovering, it’s actually describing when the subject jumps off of the bridge.
Seeds: Now that we’re on the subject, what were the experiences of recording of Common Market?
RA: As far as Common Market experience, it was really cool. The first album was recorded in an attic up on Beacon Hill in a house where Sabzi and Geo were living together. At the formation of the Blue Scholar is when Sab and I recorded the first Common Market album in the very house. The response for the first album was good enough to allow for us to get studio time at London Bridge where Pearl Jam recorded the album Ten. The product just got better, the packaging was better, and we did a good job of branding the Common Market stuff. Then when Sabzi really started to focus on the Blue Scholars, we just put Common Market aside, which was the understanding from the beginning. He can’t very well be two places at once and the Blue Scholars thing came first.
I wanted to go off and do the things I was doing pre-Common Market, banging on the djembe drum type of stuff, more accessible hip hop. So I went to MTK, he was a good friend, had spent a lot of time at the house, been playing beats for me. He was ready, gave me the beats, I recorded it and that was the Victor Shade stuff. More DIY type stuff and that’s what I’m working on now. The people that I’m creating stuff with are people who just want to be involved, there’s no money involved. The stuff I’m doing is hobby stuff. It’s stuff that I have to do cause I want to create and perform. Nobody’s making money off this, so I keep a full-time job. Always have. There’s a lot of talk now that rappers are starting to get older, retiring with not really anything to show for it. They’re starting to look for real jobs and I knew that day was coming for me, but I never really gave up my full-time job.
Seeds: With the Do It Yourself mentality and you mentioned early in your career not having studio access, now that anybody can do anything with a MacBook Pro, do you feel that the atmosphere of hip hop is changing?
RA: It absolutely changed everything, but like I said, rap was always accessible. You can always just rap over banging out a beat. So people are just using FruityLoops or GarageBand to make beats, so be it. Drum Machines, live instruments, so be it. If they’re just banging on buckets, it’s all good.
Seeds: Victor Shade, Common Market and even RA Scion, you’ve always had a moniker around you. Can you talk about what those names mean to you and why you feel the need to have a stage name?
RA: My first rap name ever when I was 12 years old was “RMC” [my friend] was “DOC” and the female beatboxer was “SMG,” so that was CHAOS, right? Of course I’ve always had an alias, I couldn’t just come out rapping as “Ryan” that shit would be lame. So I came out as RMC, after that I was Headlock for awhile, I played with a few names and I’m not gonna mention… any of them. [Laughs] It wasn’t until I moved to Seattle and I wanted to put out a new record so I came up with RA Scion. So RA, obviously has an association with the Egyptian god of the sun, but it’s also my initials. I had gone by RA in various settings, and ”scion” like a descendant or an heir, so basically a descendant of the sun god. That’s how RA Scion came about. I even put out two albums in 2002 and 2004, linked up with this indie rock producer and did some, for lack of a better term, experimental hip hop Through mutual Bahai friends I was introduced to Sabzi as he was trying to get his Blue Scholar things going. We talked about doing something and that became Common Market. But I was still RA Scion, if you get the original Common Market album it says “RA Scion | Sabzi [are] Common Market.” We had independent identities, but this collective effort was known as Common Market. We did that for a few years, then when I did the Victor Shade project I wanted to give the collaboration it’s own identity. It was an alias of RA Scion. But now back to the RA Scion;Beg, Borrow, and Steal was RA Scion, three different producers involved in it, which is why it makes sense to just call it my project. That’s probably what it’ll be from here on out. I don’t have the time, energy and resources to commit to band practice. So I’m not trying to join somebody’s band or started a super group or me and five other filthy MCs in Seattle. We’re not really motivated by the either. I’ve got some shit to say, so I’m saying it as RA Scion from here on out.
Seeds: You seem like a very well traveled and established artist. Is Seattle where you need to be right now and for the next 5 years. Do you see yourself going back to Greece or Zambia, there are causes to champion all over the world
RA: I will never return to the places I’ve been. I know that already. I’ll never live in Greece, Zambia, or Kentucky, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati again. Ever. I might continue to travel. My willingness to go wherever I need to be is one reason why there won’t ever be another Common Market album. I couldn’t really commit to anything long term. By the time we finished that last Common Market project, The Winter’s End digital EP, I was thinking I might go to Italy. So always being receptive to the possibilities does have its drawbacks, but this is where I am for now.
Buying a house was probably the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever done. I wish I had never bought this house. I love it, I really do. And, my god, it has been a fortress. This place has provided so much for so many people – including my family. Just that conventional, the way I was raised, buy a house by the time you’re 30 because it’ll never depreciate in value, it’s an investment, a status symbol – that’s how I was raised. So I busted my ass to buy a house and that’s what I did and now I’m stuck in this fuckin’ thing.
Seeds: Technically hip hop is still a young genre, right now is the time that, if you compare the two, that rock and roll was really taking off; around the mid-to-late 70‘s. Do you consider this a pivotal time for hip hop?
RA: First, I have to challenge your math… Comparing hip hop’s maturation process to to that of rock and roll. We’re talking mid-30’s, if we are to mark hip hop’s birth in the south Bronx. When rock and roll was 35 years old, I mean lets just talk about going from maybe late ‘50s, 1960. Think about when jazz was 35, jazz was dead at 35. Punk, I don’t know, I can’t really speak too much to other musical genres. But I don’t think punk ever went through the phase where people were tearing each other apart within the culture. Saying “you’re not real, you’re not holding true to the punk tenants” maybe they were, I don’t know. Hip hop came to a point where it was just killing itself, sometimes even literally. I think back to the mid-‘80s when we had the self destruction, it was about black-on-black violence. Which wasn’t directly tied to the music, but it did have the effect on the development of hip hop culture. 35 years? To think about what hip hop has gone through in 35 years, I don’t think you can compare it to any other genre. Yes, it has grown, it has gone through many different phases and stages. It is in some ways drastically different from what it used to be, but the purists are still there. They don’t get as much respect as they used to. It used to be so fuckin’ cool to be a hip hop purist. Wear Timberlands, really baggy pants – that was cool for awhile. But right around 2007, that shit wasn’t cool anymore. and for the past 5 years, people who really appreciate hip hop culture have been trying to encourage other people to just be open to new ideas. Stop being so goddamn critical. Stop wanting to save hip hop culture from itself. Just let the shit grow and breathe and live. That’s where you get Kid Cudi. I’m not mad about that at all. In fact, that’s where you get [Li’l] Wayne. You get Kreayshawn.
What I’m happy about is we get A$AP Rocky, that shit is so tight. If you’re not hip to
A$AP Rocky – and I don’t mean AESOP ROCK – I mean A$AP Rocky, this dude is murdering right now. New York City rap that sounds just like it came out of Houston. Now that is some shit for you. That is a beautiful evolution of rap. To be perfectly honest with you it feels good to hear black folks make good black music.
Seeds: Do you consider yourself among the hip hop purists?
RA: If it’s possible to be a hip hop purist without being a total asshole, then sure. [Laughs] But if it’s not, if I can’t be a purist without being a complete douche to somebody, then i’ll give it up. Yes, I still believe in some fundamental truths, and believe in hip hop culture. There’s a lot of spiritual significance to it. I still believe in the power of the hip hop spirit, but you’re not gonna hear me preaching about it from any soapbox, not anymore. I got too embarrassed. Too many people pointed fingers and said “we don’t want to be preached to, if you just want to rap, just rap.” I now know that I can still believe in what it is that I’m writing about, but I don’t have to say it in the same way. Nobody wants to hear somebody cry when they rap. That’s why people hate The Game or Drake right now. That’s why people in Seattle are made at Macklemore. A lot of it is jealousy in there, people don’t want to see Macklemore succeed. Because the dude big and selling out 1,500 capacity venues. He’s doing really impressive things, but people chalk it up to the fact that he’s too damn emotional. “I hate Macklemore cause he sounds like he cries when he raps.” That’s not really beater shit. You’re not gonna hear me out there pouring my heart out anymore, I write from the head as much as I write from the heart.
Seeds: Is there any kind of personal goal you have left you feel to attain in hip hop?
RA: [Laughs] Maybe I haven’t even resolved this in my own head yet, I don’t know if it’s possible for me to… I’ve always set very realistic goals and I said early on we hit those with Common Market. We established some very basic objectives and said “this is what we want to get out of this and anything else will just be icing on top” and so that was rewarding. I’ve always had that same philosophy. It helps you feel very grateful, but it does have an effect on your drive. The people who continue to set bigger and bigger goals are the ones that are driven. I’ve always felt a little bit more comfortable with this full-time job for securities sake, and I never wanted to go all in. To this day, I’ve never gone all in with music. That’s not what I wanted. Right now I’m not even sure that I have one so that’s the internal conflict, I don’t even know what the objective is. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting one more show, because I love performing. I enjoy that, it’s a rush for me.
Seeds: Where is your music taking you and where do you want to take your music?
RA: I’m 37 years old so I’m not trying to break into the music business. I’m never going to tour again and because of that I’ll never have a booking agent. If I don’t have a booking agent there’s not much need for management. That’s sort of determined my future and limited my capabilities going forward. I have to be okay with that. Where I’m taking the music, I don’t really know yet. A lot of it is being inspired by social development or artistic expression. I’m influenced by rappers, a lot of the young rappers that come out now I’m inspired by. Whatever it is about their style that influences me, that’s where I’m going with it. And that could change tomorrow. That’s where the music is taking me. I don’t really know so much where I’m taking the music. I was so resistant to the new developments in rap for so long. Even growing up in Louisville, I was so closely in line with the East Coast movement, I hate the West Coast hip hop just on principle. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to accept and embrace a lot of different styles of hip hop. I’ve seen how much they can influence me. The music could take me just about anywhere. I really love some Southern rap. It’s just dependent on who’s creating what. Something may happen in, I don’t know, Bozeman. Bozeman rap might be the next big thing and everybody’s will be rapping like these cats from Bozeman, Montana. Maybe that would inspire me to do the next thing.
But you have to be careful not to be a copycat. I don’t think I’ve ever really tread too far into those waters, but you can definitely hear stylistic changes. People thought I was Talib Kweli for the longest fuckin’ time. Every time I opened my mouth, they’d be like “Oh, he sounds like Talib Kweil” and I don’t know how that happened because, I told you about getting that Black Star album back in Zambia, that’s all I’d listen to over and over, and I hated Talib. I hated his voice. I thought he ruined the whole Black Star album. I would skip through Talib verses just to hear Mos Def rap. And to come out ending up sounding like Talib Kweli. Just like A$AP Rocky, it’s dope to me that you have someone coming out of Harlem that sounds like he’s from Houston. Hip hop has a hard time accepting these sort of things because as a culture it’s always been so deeply rooted in your geographic location. It was East Coast, West Coast or “I’m from Atlanta” or “We’re down from Miami.” If you’re from New Orleans, you’re not welcome in Houston. Chicago. Minneapolis. It was all about where you were. People still have a hard time getting over the fact that Tupac was from New York. That blows some people’s minds.
Seeds: We’re calling from Lincoln, Nebraska. Which is really not New York or Seattle…
RA: You’re right, I’ve driven through Lincoln, there’s not a god damn thing going on there. [Laughs]
Seeds: Actually, as far as Lincoln standards go, a fairly sizable Occupy Wall Street protest. You’ve voiced your support for OWS, do you have a message to the shivering pile of politically motivated people collapsed at the heap of our capitol?
RA: I mean, what do I say from the comfort of my own home? I get home to turn on the space heater to make sure the house was warm when my wife and daughter got home. Am I a sympathizer? Hell yeah. Do I have the balls to get out there and camp with them? No. I can’t risk losing my job. I don’t have a corporate job, I’ve always tried to work for the right people and do the right thing. Do a job I could be proud of. I recognize that I’m a part of the problem so it sounds disingenuous to say I’m proud of them. What do they care anyway? Some of them have probably never heard of me and some of them will never hear of me.
Do you see what white guilt has done to me? [Laughs]
You guys are still so young, hold on to your youth-hood forever. Again, I’m so appreciative of this moment. I’m so happy to be alive and witness what’s going on with the OWS movement. Even before Wall Street, the revolution in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. I felt so closely connected to those things. I can’t take credit for any of it, but I want to be mindful of the fact of walking around talking about how proud I am of those people, because I don’t want to offend. How pious is it of me to say I’m proud of them.
I’m still broke as a motherfucker, yes I am struggling, but I’m not gonna be over here talking about my struggles while those people are over there freezing their asses off. I do want to send a message of support and encouragement. I love each and every one of those people who are sacrificing and doing what they do because they believe in it. If they don’t respect me for doing so then I understand that too.
Seeds: Well we ran out of our ridiculous amount of questions, is there anything else you wanted to say that you didn’t get out?
RA: [Laughs] No I can’t imagine I’ve left anything out.
Seeds: We have way more than we’re going to be able to use. We’re going to have to get creative…
RA: Of course, man. In this amount of material, I’m sure they could have written a Kardashian series. [Laughs]
Seeds: To be fair, I don’t think it takes that much plot.
RA: [Laughs] This is cool, because I’ve never played the state of Nebraska before and maybe this will generate some interest and I can come out to the fair city of Lincoln.
Seeds: We’ll spread the word, we promise.